State Senator James Sanders takes the Tuvalu Challenge delivering an Earth Day speech from Rockaway surfing. (Photo courtesy of Sanders’ office)
As promised, state Senator James Sanders took the Tuvalu Challenge and delivered an Earth Day speech on the importance of climate change while standing knee-deep in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean at Rockaway Beach.
Sanders drew inspiration from a similar demonstration held in the South Pacific last November by Tuvaluan Foreign Minister Simon Kofe to raise awareness around the world of the growing threat of climate change.
“Climate change is not just for foreign countries. Climate change is something that threatens us all,” said Sanders as he kept his balance amidst the waves. “We need to divest from fossil fuels and use more alternative energy like solar and geothermal and, of course, wave power. We don’t want to be swept up in this in the future. Why is this happening here? Because whatever will happen in New York City will happen here first.”
Sanders explained that he introduced the Green New Deal at the state level and that the city has long-term plans to create clean energy. Watching from the shoreline on Beach 73rd Street is a curious member of the public and Sanders’ partner in government, Councilor Selvena Brooks-Powers and Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, who chronicles the next 10 years since Superstorm Sandy tore the Rockaways.
“It’s important that we prioritize climate safety and fight environmental racism at every step and in every way we can,” Anderson said. “Senator Sanders’ leadership today in talking about how climate change is impacting the quality of life on the peninsula is important. Floods became commonplace; different weather patterns change to normal, and so the air quality continues to decline because we have airplanes and air pollution. Also, the black community is more likely to have a negative impact on the environment.”
After joining the Tuvalu Challenge, Sanders emerged from the waves and joined community leaders in planting Hackberry trees at Goldie Maple Academy. Sanders said the tree would add beauty and help shade the park for the next 100 years and the tree they planted was the first of 10,000 trees in District 10 as part of a new program he started.
“It’s always important to have trees in communities like ours as we continue to battle chronic diseases like asthma,” Brooks-Powers said. “As someone with asthma, continuing to work to make New York a prime example to the rest of the world is important to me. We must strive to leave the environment in a better place than we have today for the children around us.”